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How To Help a Limping Dog

How To Help a Limping Dog

Dog limping is one of the most common reasons why pet parents bring their four-legged friend to see our North Asheville vets. Often the cause of limping is minor, however, there are some serious health concerns that can lead to limping in dogs. Learn more about the causes of limping in dogs and how to help if your pooch is limping.

Why is my dog limping?

Just like people, there are countless issues that can result in your dog limping. The problem is that, unlike people, dogs aren't able to tell us what happened, where exactly the pain is, or how painful their issue is. This means that it's up to you and your vet to try and figure out what is causing your pup's discomfort and how you can help.

Dog limping on a front or back leg could be caused by something minor like a small stone caught between their toes or it could be an indication of a serious health concern. Some of the most common causes of limping in dogs include:

  • Something painful stuck in their paw
  • Insect bite or sting
  • Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
  • Trauma, such as broken bones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Vascular conditions

Should I take my limping dog to the vet?

While it's not always necessary to head to the vet right away if your dog is limping, there are some cases when a vet appointment is essential for your pup. If any of the following apply to your dog it's time to contact your veterinarian or your nearest emergency veterinarian clinic for care.

  • A broken limb (may be at an irregular angle)
  • A dangling limb (this indicates dislocation)
  • Moderate to severe swelling
  • Limbs that feel hot to the touch
  • Limping in combination with a fever

How can I help my limping dog?

When you first notice that your pup is limping, try to rest your dog as best you can. You'll need to limit mobility, as any further strain can cause a more serious injury. Exercise should be put on hold until your dog has healed, and you should leash your pet to walk them outside for bathroom breaks as they may try to run if let out into the yard.

Check for bleeding. This will usually provide insight into whether your dog has suffered an injury, puncture, or bite.

Take a good look at your pup's foot for signs of injury, such as cuts. Contact your veterinarian if you spot something painful.

If you suspect your dog's limp is caused by inflammation, try alternating between heat and ice packs as a way to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Contact your vet for recommendations on which to apply and when.

Typically, if the limp isn't severe, you can simply monitor your dog's progress at home over 24-48 hours, watching for more symptoms or whether the limp becomes more pronounced.

In most cases, it's better to be safe than sorry, and scheduling an appointment with your vet may help both you and your dog to feel better. If the limp doesn't begin to resolve itself, is becoming worse, or is accompanied by whining or yelping, it's time to call your vet or visit your nearest emergency vet.

Your veterinarian has the training and knowledge to best determine the cause and severity of your pup's pain. A thorough examination may include blood work, tick testing, or x-rays. Your dog's breed, history, age, and general health will all be considered in the diagnosis, as well as the prescribed treatment plan.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your dog limping? Contact Animal Hospital of North Asheville to book an examination for your canine companion.

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